Jones has seven days to turn things around
NEWS: Rocked by the World Cup loss of Allan Alaalatoa, the shattered Wallabies have just seven days to regroup before the second Bledisloe Cup clash in Dunedin.
The Australians started brightly in the opening Test in Melbourne, playing the best 30 minutes of rugby in their three games since Eddie Jones replaced Dave Rennie as coach.
But unable to turn pressure into points, they fizzled out with the All Blacks running in six tries in the 38-7 victory on Saturday night to secure the Bledisloe for a 21st straight year.
Jones was at the helm when Australia last won that trophy, and he was also the last coach to taste success in Dunedin when the Wallabies won at Carisbrook 23-15 way back in 2001, before the covered Forsyth Barr Stadium was built.
He’s set to turn to co-captain James Slipper to start at tighthead on Saturday after Alaalatoa ruptured an Achilles tendon during a scrum in the MCG match.
Prop Taniela Tupou (ribs) and veteran flanker Michael Hooper (calf) will also be missing.
Fellow prop Angus Bell said he could hear Alaalatoa in pain as the scrum went down.
The fourth Wallabies player in 12 months to suffer the injury, Bell had no theory on that unfortunate toll but said the loss of Alaalatoa was huge with their World Cup starting in France on September 10.
“It’s a massive loss – Al’s a big part of our team, a big part of our leadership and he holds a lot of respect in our group,” said Bell, who had his best Test in the gold jumper.
“As well as being a world-class tighthead, that’s just the start of what we lose with Allan, so it’s going to be hard without him…we’ve got blokes in that position that can step up and fill that void but it’s a very hard void to fill.”
Still working his way back to peak form after his ACL injury, centre Samu Kerevi said the team was eager to get another crack at the All Blacks, who are unbeaten in their three Tests this year and clinched the Rugby Championship title.
“It’s good it’s kind of a short turnaround for us to get back on the horse,” Kerevi said.
“You want to keep building towards the World Cup but next week, it’s so important for us to bounce back.
“We put in some tough training sessions in the last couple of weeks and to get a result like that wasn’t good enough.
“But we see the improvements in our team that we want, with the way we want it to go.
“You saw it in the first 25 minutes – the attacking shape we want, guys working hard for each other, that’s the image you want for each other and for this team.
“We just need to find the 25 minutes for the full 80 minutes.”
Kerevi’s new centre partner Jordan Petaia showed promise while 22-year-old playmaker Carter Gordon, in his first Test start, delivered a mixed bag.
Kerevi said the youngster would grow from the match.
“I was really proud of Carts (Gordon), a big game to start, and I thought he’s growing as a man and as a player.
“He’s still a young kid but he’s got no fear in that space.
“We made mistakes as a backline but I find that the growth that he’s getting in these games will go a long way for him.”